SUBJECT: The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District, (Corps) is evaluating a permit application to construct the Tesla Battery Manufacturing Plant, which would result in impacts to approximately 10.099 acres of waters of the United States, including wetlands. This notice is to inform interested parties of the proposed activity and to solicit comments.
AUTHORITY: This application is being evaluated under Section 404 of the Clean Water Act for the discharge of dredged or fill material in waters of the United States.
APPLICANT: Sacramento County Office of Economic Development, Attn: Rob Leonard, 700 H Street, Suite 7650, Sacramento, CA 95814
LOCATION: The 643-acre site is located near Morrison Creek, Township 8N, Range 6-7E, Sacramento County, CA on the former Mather Air Force Base.
PROJECT DESCRIPTION: The proposal is to construct a 5-10 million square foot plant of approximately 230 acres to manufacture lithium ion batteries. Associated development would include a parking lot of about 100 acres, utility infrastructure and rehabilitation and extension of an existing railroad spur. Based on the available information, such a plant is needed to allow for improvement of the current battery manufacturing process, with the goal of producing a mass-market electric car in approximately three years. The proposed facility is expected to achieve economies of scale and minimize costs. The applicant has stated that the proposed project would further the mast planned development of the former Air Force base through capital investment and replacement of jobs. The attached drawings provide additional project details.
Environmental Setting. There are approximately 3.58 acres of vernal pools, 0.53 acre of vernal swales and 5.99 acres of seasonal wetlands within the project area. The proposed project would fill all these waters. In addition, there are 0.53 acre of drainage ditch and 3.04 acres of channels that would be re-routed to the perimeter of the project site, for a total of 3.57 acres of temporary impacts. The main project site comprises the Airport Commercial and Commercial Development land uses proposed by the County and described in the Corps June 2012 Mather Specific Plan Project Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS). The proposed railroad connection would traverse developed lands and the northern boundary of Mather Airport then enter the project site.
Alternatives. The applicant has provided information concerning project alternatives, including two off site alternatives that the applicant rejected for a number of reasons, including insufficient size and lack of railroad access. Two on-site alternatives would result in fewer impacts to aquatic resources. Additional information concerning project alternatives may be available from the applicant or their agent. Other alternatives may develop during the review process for this permit application. All reasonable project alternatives, in particular those which may be less damaging to the aquatic environment, will be considered.
Mitigation. The Corps requires that applicants consider and use all reasonable and practical measures to avoid and minimize impacts to aquatic resources. If the applicant is unable to avoid or minimize all impacts, the Corps may require compensatory mitigation. The applicant has proposed to preserve on-site aquatic resources on the Mather Preserve described in the 2012 DEIS. Furthermore, the applicant indicated that they would compensate for direct and indirect impacts through purchase of creation credits at an approved mitigation bank, although none was specified.
OTHER GOVERNMENTAL AUTHORIZATIONS: Water quality certification or a waiver, as required under Section 401 of the Clean Water Act from the Central Valley Regional Water Quality Control Board is required for this project. The applicant has not indicated they have applied for certification.
HISTORIC PROPERTIES: Based on the available information (including applicant's report entitled Mather Specific Plan Project Sacramento County, California), potentially eligible cultural resources may be affected by the proposed project. The Corps will initiate consultation with the State Historic Preservation Officer under Section 106 of the National Historic Preservation Act, as appropriate.
ENDANGERED SPECIES: The proposed activity may affect Federally-listed endangered or threatened vernal pool species and their critical habitat. The Corps will initiate consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, pursuant to Section 7 of the Endangered Species Act.
ESSENTIAL FISH HABITAT: The proposed project would not affect any Essential Fish Habitat (EFH) as defined in the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act.
The above determinations are based on information provided by the applicant and our preliminary review.
EVALUATION FACTORS: The decision whether to issue a permit will be based on an evaluation of the probable impacts, including cumulative impacts, of the described activity on the public interest. That decision will reflect the national concern for both protection and utilization of important resources. The benefit, which reasonably may be expected to accrue from the described activity, must be balanced against its reasonably foreseeable detriments. All factors which may be relevant to the described activity will be considered, including the cumulative effects thereof; among those are conservation, economics, aesthetics, general environmental concerns, wetlands, historic properties, fish and wildlife values, flood hazards, floodplain values, land use, navigation, shoreline erosion and accretion, recreation, water supply and conservation, water quality, energy needs, safety, food and fiber production, mineral needs, consideration of property ownership and, in general, the needs and welfare of the people. The activity's impact on the public interest will include application of the Section 404(b)(1) guidelines promulgated by the Administrator, Environmental Protection Agency (40 CFR Part 230).
The Corps is soliciting comments from the public, Federal, State, and local agencies and officials, Indian tribes, and other interested parties in order to consider and evaluate the impacts of this proposed activity. Any comments received will be considered by the Corps to determine whether to issue, modify, condition, or deny a permit for this proposal. To make this decision, comments are used to assess impacts on endangered species, historic properties, water quality, general environmental effects, and other public interest factors listed above. Comments are used in the preparation of an Environmental Assessment and/or an Environmental Impact Statement pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act. Comments are also used to determine the need for a public hearing and to determine the overall public interest of the proposed activity.
SUBMITTING COMMENTS: Written comments, referencing Public Notice SPK-2014-00479 must be submitted to the office listed below on or before June 21, 2014.
Kathleen Dadey, Project Manager
US Army Corps of Engineers, Sacramento District
1325 J Street, Room 1350
Sacramento, CA 95814
The Corps is particularly interested in receiving comments related to the proposal's probable impacts on the affected aquatic environment and the secondary and cumulative effects. Anyone may request, in writing, that a public hearing be held to consider this application. Requests shall specifically state, with particularity, the reason(s) for holding a public hearing. If the Corps determines that the information received in response to this notice is inadequate for thorough evaluation, a public hearing may be warranted. If a public hearing is warranted, interested parties will be notified of the time, date, and location. Please note that all comment letters received are subject to release to the public through the Freedom of Information Act. If you have questions or need additional information please contact the applicant or the Corps' project manager Kathleen Dadey, 916-557-7253, Kathleen.A.Dadey@usace.army.mil.
Attachments: 2 drawings